The Safety Challenges in the Recycling Industry

Recycling is beneficial for the environment, but substantial safety problems are facing the recycling business.

FREMONT CA: Globally, recycling and environmental consciousnesses are at all-time highs. As an alternative to tossing everything into a rubbish bag for landfill disposal, people and businesses are sorting trash to separate the recyclables from the trash. Cell phones, laptops, and televisions are just a few of the electronic equipment being recycled to use precious metals and plastics again. There are also rules prohibiting the disposal of specific materials in landfills to encourage recycling.

The environmental benefits of recycling far outweigh the safety concerns that the sector must contend with. Below are some of the identified following safety problems.

Chemical exposure: Typically, recycling electronics components and metal scrap entail separating scrap into its component metals. This may require the removal of lead-based paint and the separation of heavy metals, precious metals, and radioactive scrap metals. When these materials are ground/shredded, blasted, roasted, or melted, fumes or metal dust are created and disseminated in the air. Appropriate work practices are required to ensure that employees are not exposed to hazardous materials. Controlling workplace and environmental exposures through engineering controls such as local exhaust ventilation equipped with dust collection devices.

Additionally, periodic air sampling should be conducted to ensure that contaminants in the air are kept below permissible levels. Lead, cadmium, mercury, and hexavalent chromium are among the pollutants present in this business. Noise exposure is also a factor to consider.

Flammable dust explosions: Several combustible dust explosions have occurred recently in the United States. Several of these explosions have occurred in the recycling sector. Combustible dust explosions may occur during processes that mill combustible particles, such as metals and plastics. Recycling facilities that generate flammable dust require suitable protective measures, including spark detection, automated suppression, and deflagration venting.

Machine guarding hazards: Scrap metal and paper is frequently compressed with balers to increase the material's processing efficiency. All baler moving parts must be guarded to prevent employee touch. Additionally, all other moving equipment, such as rotating belts, pulleys, and grinders, requires proper guarding to safeguard people from crushing dangers.

Lockout/tagout: Recycling requires powerful machinery with moving parts, and this equipment must be cleaned and serviced regularly. Employees must avoid putting any part of their body into moving machinery until it has been locked/tagged out.

Cutting/burning: Fires and explosions frequently occur in the recycling sector due to cutting and burning containers that still contain gasoline or other hydrocarbons. A combustible gas meter may be required to ensure that no flammable vapor is present.